Publication Year: 2013
On the southern portion of what was known as the Sibley’s Pezuna del Caballo (Horse’s Hoof) Ranch in West Texas’ Culberson County are two mountains that nearly meet, forming a gap that frames a salt flat where Indians and later, pioneers came to gather salt to preserve foodstuffs. According to the US Geological Survey, the gap that provides this breathtaking and historic view is named “Jane’s Window.”
In Jane’s Window: My Spirited Life in West Texas and Austin, Jane Dunn Sibley, the inimitable namesake of that mountain gap, gives readers a similarly enchanting view: she tells the story of a small-town West Texas girl coming into her own in Texas’ capital city, where her commitment to philanthropy and the arts and her flair for fashion—epitomized by her signature buzzard feather—have made her name a society staple.
Growing up during the Depression in Fort Stockton, Jane Sibley learned first-hand the value of hard work and determination. In what she describes as “a more innocent age,” she experienced the “pleasant life” of a rural community with good schools, friends and neighbors, and daily dips in the Comanche Springs swimming pool. She arrived as a student at the University of Texas only ninety days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and studied art under such luminaries as sculptor Charles Umlauf. Her enchanting stories of returning to Fort Stockton, working in the oil industry, marrying local doctor D. J. Sibley, and rearing a family evoke both her love for her origins and her clear-eyed aspirations.
The Sibleys never discussed the details of their good fortune, and, to their gratitude, no one ever asked. In Jane’s Window, Sibley narrates travel adventures, shares vignettes of famous visitors, and tells of her favorite causes, among which the Austin Symphony and the preservation of lower Pecos prehistoric rock art are especially prominent.
Peopled with vivid characters and told in Sibley’s uniquely down-to-earth and humorous manner, Jane’s Window paints a portrait of a life filled to the brim with events both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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...nor is this memoir. it is hopefully a work of literature, but it is also a significant history of times and places and people too little recorded or remembered in a Texas that has changed within her lifetime from a rural state to a crowded urban one. People, places, things—Jane has seen a great deal and has penned it with a native Texas ability to combine keen ...
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Late in 2008 i was working hard against a deadline to finish my biog-raphy of Jack London. i came home one day to find a telephone mes-sage from Jane Dunn Sibley, asking me to call her regarding a memoir she was writing. i had met Mrs. Sibley several months before when i gave a talk about the arts in Texas history to an art League gathering. ...
Prologue: Mahala Milligan
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To help her children to remain calm during the siege, Mahala lighted the lamp and read aloud to them from a book of Shakespeare plays. When morning came, she realized the Comanches were gone. after the family went out to recover Mr. Milligan’s body, they removed the fatal spear point which had killed him. That sharp flint spear point and the ...
01. Gifts from the Past
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She was among the early settlers in Central Texas during a time when indians often attacked those who had “Gone to Texas” to after marauding indians killed her husband, she faced the challenge of rearing five children by herself on a farm without electricity, running water, or indoor toilets. There was no help from the state in those days, ...
02. Growing Up in Fort Stockton
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Given our geographic isolation, it only made sense for folks to get along. We were way out in far West Texas, four hundred miles west of San antonio, two hundred fifty miles east of el Paso. When i was a little girl, Fort Stockton’s population was around three thousand. Outsiders always said we were “good people” and for the most part, we were. ...
03. The University in Wartime
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...students, a vast number in those days, it did not seem too big to me. i liked it immediately, and i was never homesick, not for one minute. Coming from a little town where people knew and respected my par-ents, i had grown up with everyone in town knowing and accepting me. When i got to the University, nobody knew me, so i had to make ...
04. D. J. Sibley
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...loved riding horseback with my mama and her friend, Myrtle Mendel. When he was a little boy, D. J. often rode a burro he had bought for fifty cents. D. J. pretty much grew up in the saddle, riding back and forth to his family’s ranches. at a time when millions of other little boys only When Dr. Phillip King’s geological survey was mapping the Glass ...
05. On My Own
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...ing offices of the three largest stores: neiman-Marcus, Sanger’s, and it took me some time to be hired, because i faced the usual problem of any recent college graduate: all the stores wanted to hire new people, but they also preferred to hire new employees with experience. Problem was, most recent college graduates had none, unless they lied on their ...
06. An Unconventional Romance
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...physical, the army doctors discovered that, besides hepatitis, he had con-tracted tuberculosis. immediately, D. J. received orders committing him to Fitzsimmon General Hospital in Colorado, where his TB would be after that year was up, he came home to Fort Stockton, having been ordered to “take it easy.” That order was equally easy for him to obey, ...
07. A n “Old Maid” No More
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...deliver her fourth child and D. J. was her doctor, so he had to in those days, doctors never induced labor. The baby came when it came and it was the doctor’s duty to be on hand to deliver it. D. J. felt my friend’s birth date would certainly occur by the end of February. He We did not plan a large wedding, because Mama was neither finan-...
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Built in 1896, the Gray Mule was in surprisingly good condition. elodia Barron had rented the space for her Mexican café, but to meet city regulations, we needed to add another restroom. We were adding i told Magdalena, my yard man, that i would give him our old ranch pickup if he would make 200 adobe bricks from which we could build ...
09. Preserving History and Moving a Church
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...social calendar of every doctor’s wife. D. J.’s and mine was although i had always enjoyed dressing up, during the fifties, i was doing a lot of painting and renovating. There were even some years when i paid too little attention to how i looked than i used to. Fortu-nately for my self-esteem, i was not alone; my condition was all-too-...
10. Our World Explodes while I’m Washing Sheets
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His career as a small-town doctor who still made house calls required endless hours away from home. For D. J., there was no such thing as controlling his own time. Like most small town doctors, his life belonged Typically, in the middle of the night, he would get a call from a hus-band. “Oh, doctor, please come!” Some patients had no choice but to ...
11. Laguna Gloria
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...teen, became famous for using her money to buy the alamo in San an-The museum is located in the Driscoll mansion on 35th Street on the shores of Lake austin. ever since my days as a student at UT i had wanted to be involved in the art world. in 1950, as a bride in el Paso, i had joined the austin chapter of the Texas Fine arts association. The ...
12. The Castle
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...ploding commode; a significant secondary element in its existence was a ever since 1924, D. J.’s parents had owned a large ranch in the Glass Mountains near alpine, Texas. The Sibleys never spent a single night on their land. Only cowboys ever lived there, working the ranch and sleep-ing in two small houses on the property. One year in the late 60s, when ...
13. The Symphony
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...but did not seem to have any real enthusiasm for the work. For lack of a regular meeting place, we gathered from time to time in the board rooms The aSO was the city’s oldest performing arts group, founded in 1911. However, classical music in Texas has always had a rather select following. By 1972, the symphony was considering bankruptcy. at one ...
14. Symphony Square
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...tion and to develop the wholly new concept we call today, “Symphony Peggy was a major force in the Heritage Society of austin, and she was absolutely passionate about preservation. She told me the sympho-ny could acquire an historic building at 11th and Red River Street as our symphony office. US Urban Renewal had offered the building free ...
15. People I Have Been Privileged to Meet and to Know
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...vival style that later swept the southwest including California, and the other, The Castle, the contemporary house we erected on a moun-taintop in the Glass Mountains of West Texas. at both homes, we enriched our lives by inviting the fascinating guests who shared their Before we built The Castle, we hosted hunts each fall deer season ...
16. Buzzard Feathers and Movie Stars
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...the same time i did, and i am surprised our paths did not cross there. When the war came along, Grace told herself, “i’m not doing the right thing by staying in school. i want to join the Women’s air Force Service Pilots.” The WaSPs were just being organized at the time. With great reluctance, Grace’s daddy finally relented and approved her flying ...
17. Rock Art: Not All Masterpieces Are in Museums
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...learned that you do not need to hold public office to make a big differ-ence while trying to save historic structures and natural treasures. What Fort Stockton to help save an important and priceless site of prehistoric Texas art, to help create a state park to showcase those ancient wall in 1968, the US Corps of engineers were supervising the building ...
18. Lifetime Friendships
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...ties and thirties who still call each other regularly. Sometimes, we phone each other at least every three months or so, but often we connect once a week. Whenever we talk or see each other, we still have We attended various colleges, we married, and even ended up living in different parts of the country, and yet we manage to remain close. ...
19. A round the World
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...in China, featured the Chinese orchestra. When isaac Stern, the great violinist, visited China in 1979, he discovered a group of talented young musicians who had emerged from years of censorship under the burden They were performing classical music that their parents had taught them at home. Only a few years earlier, China itself had emerged from ...
20. The Long Center
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Of course, i said yes. although i had no idea what he had up his sleeve, my curiosity was aroused. Besides, i did not want to miss an op-Frank was an attorney and lobbyist who lived in our neighborhood on Woodlawn, across the street from Joe Long. He was a Democrat and close to the Lyndon Johnson family. Today, he is remembered as well as ...
21. Jake: 1950–1991
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...if ever i was stranded on a desert island, i often told friends, i would want to be stuck there with Jake. He was competent in so many dif-ferent areas: he thought things through logically and he demonstrated that quality from when he was a small child. at twelve, Jake called his grandmother long-distance—back when long distance was an extrava-...
22. Mahala: 1952–2003
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Well, that was also the moment when i thought to myself, “Oh, brother! We’ve sent Mahala a thousand miles from home to be with someone like that girl.” We tried to get her a more compatible room-mate, but the school authorities would not consider making a change for a family friend, who was a graduate of the school, had been very ...
23. Hiram: 1957–
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...took him and our maid with us, leaving Jake and Mahala in the care of Hiram was a stunning baby. i realize every mother thinks her baby is beautiful, but Hiram stopped traffic in the aisles of neiman-Marcus. That weekend in Dallas, he was wearing a white piqué double-breasted coat, a matching cap with a tiny bill, white shoes, and socks. i wanted ...
24. D. J.: The Great Survivor
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...cal attraction is important, but it is not what sustains a relation-ship. The qualities that last a lifetime are intelligence, a passion for learning, and mutual interests. D. J. was knowledgeable and active in so many fields. He was interested in archeology, art, ecology, geology, history, languages, and philosophy. He played the piano, and ...
25. The Joys of Unsolicited Advice
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...meaningful, productive, and happy life? i believe everyone can sum up that answer with these twelve words: good genes, good health, good values, none of us has any choice about our genetic makeup. Our job is to Our choices about diet, exercise, and attitude have an enormous im-pact on our health and our vitality as well as on our longevity....
Appendix: Chronology—Jane Horton Dunn Sibley
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Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 108 b&w photos. Index.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series